The story of Exodus and Samuel Beckett’s most famous play takes on new relevance in that of Antoinette Nwandu Go overa play presented at the Second Thought Theater in Dallas from July 20-30.
“It’s our own biblical story. It’s like 2022 meets the Bible,” said Sasha Maya Ada, the show’s director.
Go overfirst full play to open on Broadway in 2021 after pandemic shutdown, uses aspects of Beckett Waiting for Godot and the biblical story of the exodus to explore the hopes of two young black men stuck on a city block, dreaming of a better future. The play is Second Thought Theater’s second show of the season focusing on disparity.
Nwandu wrote three endings for the show. She wrote the ending that Second Thought Theater uses as a response to what was happening to young black men under the Trump administration.
“That specific ending came out of desperation at what was going on: the number of names turned into hashtags, the fact that she was working with young people in New York,” Ada said. “And I think for me that encompasses the disparity that it’s young black men growing up in the middle of the pandemic have had to watch and time and again that people like them are being murdered and forgotten. No other demographic group in the United States has a similar story.
Biblical references come in the form of character names, including one of the main characters, Moses, and in character descriptions. These characters hope for the Promised Land, even as they exist in a stifling environment.
“It feels like an opportunity for us to see modern America in 2022 alongside this biblical story. It’s quite powerful because we don’t associate the Bible with black stories,” Ada said. It’s not about religion. It’s a play about hope. It’s a play about aspirations. It’s a play about faith in the most non-religious terms. It’s like having faith in your friends, in your space, in your home, in your potential.
Like Beckett’s bums waiting under a tree for a character who never arrives, Moses and another young black man, Kitch, wait for something better beyond the block where they seem trapped.
“You have two people stuck in a space who can’t move, and I think it’s fascinating that we as an audience are stuck with them,” Ada said. “There’s something about it that feels like a window into something.”
Moses and Kitch chat and play games to pass the time.
“We see the evolution of their relationship throughout the play, from friends to brothers supporting systems to people who may or may not hate each other through that sibling lens,” Ada said.
Their aspiration is simple: get over it.
“I think it’s a metaphor for what the resources are outside of that block. There are times we see Antoinette highlighting things like food deserts in unexpected ways,” Ada said.
Nwandu writes these characters as average human beings. These are not examples of excellence or evil.
“They’re just regular black men and all they want to do is get out of their neighborhood,” Ada said.
Overriding has a deeper meaning.
“As an audience and as a director, I think moving on is liberation, it’s freedom, it’s being able to get off the block, not get stuck, not get shot and to be able to flourish,” Ada said.
In the average existence of Moses and Kitch, there is humor.
“I’m biased, but I think black people are really funny. I think we’re hilarious. I think we kind of have to fight the horrible atrocities that we’ve had to endure, survive, overcome, that humor is at the heart of what we do. It’s everywhere. It’s a fun show,” Ada said. “It was nice to live in black joy for a while. It’s absolutely there. There’s something about seeing two young black men being two young black men on stage. »
Go over is produced in partnership with Big D Reads ’22, a community-wide reading program championing Jim Schutze’s 1986 novel, Housing: The Politics of Race in an American City. Both the book and the play inspire questions about societal norms and relationships within a community.
“I hope this piece will allow people to be more comfortable with unfiltered darkness and allow us to understand how tiny cuts cut deeper than intended and how we are all connected in the outcome of things. It’s a trickle down effect,” Ada said. “It’s an hour and 20 minutes of our lives investing in a story we don’t hear often, and I think that’s important.”
Learn more: Theater of the Second Thought